Tag Archives: future

Building A Future?

woodUntil fairly recently, I had dreams of taking a Doctorate in Creative Writing.

After the utter implausibility of finally mastering a Master’s through much trial and error (plus a decapitated mouse which appeared in my first, futile attempt at short fiction), I thought, ‘why not?’

I duly collected leaflets about available courses and being a mature student. I scanned blogs of those gone before, downloaded information and looked into funding. I even attended a Postgraduate Student Fair and found myself surrounded by kids I was old enough to parent. But. I could do this?

I can’t.

I’ve read the case studies. Bright-eyed eager (young) people with many, many awards under their belts and obscure research titles to their names. I’ve read the tiny success rates about securing funding and have looked in to alternative sources of funding, i.e. living like a pauper for six years, existing on Super-Noodles and crackers.

I would love to surrender my life to this dream over the next three years, or six years part time as I still have to work. I want to be immersed in writing and carry a notebook confidently into the nearest cafe, flick open a fresh page and jot down suitably astounding and genre-defying remarks.

I can’t.

There’s not much funding out there for a getting-on-for-mature MS blogger who fancies herself as the next Sylvia Plath.

So, I have a brand-new, shiny idea.

After much googling and sending-off-for-information, I have decided to retrain (perhaps) as … a carpenter.

Brimming with excitement, I laid out my life-altering plan to The Boss, aka My One-Time Best Friend over a coffee. After he stopped laughing, he asked why.

Well. After project-managing many building projects, I felt confident that I could carry out such an artisan craft, all by myself. And a training course would merely solidify all that I have learned these last years?

I like the word ‘artisan’ and pictured a future workshop where I would wood-turn and create dove-tails and suchlike. It would be a dusty, arty place, with deliberately mismatched chairs, a Scandinavian name and hand-thrown pottery mugs.

He mentioned that I could already cut architrave, lay floors and use a drill. I was even a passable tiler (praise indeed from The Boss, although I am an excellent tiler, if the space is small enough and I can sit down).

He queried my MS – would I be able to cope with the course? Yes – he could be my helper, if needs be. This didn’t go down so well, so I won’t be telling him when I go for the interview.

What do you guys think? Have I got enough drive to cut it in the World of Wood?

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Good Grief

Cardiff-20131102-00293I think I’ve finally come to terms with having MS in my life.

It’s been a long grieving process, a period of mourning what I have lost and what will never be.

But through this grief, I’m now more aware of what is good in my life, and I’ve discovered previously-untapped inner strength. So how well did I manage the classic five stages of grief?

Denial – This. Cannot. Be. Happening. I spent a long time with this thought, lying awake night after night, gripped by an unfathomable darkness, terrified of stepping into the unknown. It was an unreal situation and I blundered through it, denial far easier than facing up to very real fears.

Anger – I had this in bucketloads, plus an unhealthy dollop of self-pity. I was angry beyond belief. Just when my life was opening up again and long-awaited opportunities were within my reach, they were going to be snatched away? Seriously?

Bargaining – I didn’t really spend any time at this stage. I knew deep down that there would be no bargaining. Rather than try to exercise more or incorporate a healthier diet in an attempt to avoid the inevitable, I veered off in the opposite direction, thinking, ‘what does it matter, the damage is already done’. I self-medicated with chocolate, wine and comfort food.

Depression – This was the longest, most soul-destroying stage. I withdrew from the world, helped along by my symptoms speeding up the process. Home became my sanctuary and my prison in equal measure. Life was interminably bleak, the days long and dark, the nights longer. And darker.

Acceptance – After the awful depression, I had a choice. Either to go under or create a new way of living. I was fed up waking up every day under a cloud of misery. Rather than focus on what was lost, I looked at what I could do. What had this whole process taught me? After facing a vortex of fear and terror, the only way to look was up. The alternative was unthinkable.

Grieving allowed me to survive this change in my life and come out more positive and stronger within myself. Change comes in many guises, mine just happened to be MS. It shook my life to its foundations, but the resulting re-building is more secure and solid than before.

And the best thing? I had overwhelming support support from you, through this blog. Thank you.

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This Is What MS Feels Like

lonelinessImagine you had a life-long friend.

This friend’s been with you through everything. Every high, every low. Seen you through weird and wonderful adventures across the world, the birth of your child, a near-fatal car crash.

One day, this friend turns on you. To begin with, you don’t really take much notice, you’re too busy trying to get on with life. You ignore the niggling doubts. You trust this friend implicitly, with your life. But the warning signs become hard to ignore. You’re sure they’re drugging your coffee, it’s the only thing that could explain the overwhelming fatigue. They begin messing with your mind, mixing up your thoughts, your emotions, garbling your speech.

Things escalate badly. They begin pushing you over and tripping you up. You never know when it’s going to happen and you start to live in fear. Your balance is shot to pieces, the pain is uncontrollable. You start going out less, hiding yourself at home. You’re bullied at work because of the friend, who by now is an enemy. This will ultimately be an excuse to fire you from a job you love. Friends abandon you, leaving you even more isolated. Your family can’t begin to understand what’s happening to you, no matter how many times you try to explain.

Your income drops as you have to reorganise your working hours, your social life is non-existant. Simple tasks become mountains you have no hope of scaling. Just getting through each day in one piece becomes your sole aim. Fear and loneliness are now your constant companions, keeping you up into the small hours, frantically working out what your new future will look like, if you have one at all. Every area of your life is rapidly changing beyond recognition, so fast you can barely keep up. Your son cries in his bedroom. He can’t cope and you don’t know quite how to console him when you can’t even reassure yourself.

This is what MS feels like. Your body, your friend through life who has never let you down before, attacks you from every single angle.

Drugs, treatments and a superb support network have restored some kind of order to my life, although it is not the life I had before. But those black, dark days will remain with me forever. And they may, just may, reappear at any time. Carpe diem.

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The Future’s Bright?

I have had a very frustrating weekend. MS has been messing with my hands again – coffee grains have been flying, cups dropping from my hands and I just can’t get my eyeliner on straight. The foot drop is back too and  it looks like I’m doing a hoedown dance when I’m walking down the street. Most inelegant.

So when my friend mentioned that a good friend of hers was visiting, I jumped at the chance to pop over. Why? Well, he’s brilliant at reading tarot cards. Normally I take things like that with a hefty pinch of salt. Sure, I read my horoscope, and on the whole it’s quite accurate. But then I do a little test and read a different sign and that’s just as accurate too. Apparently this guy really is very good though. He is a professional businessman who just happens to have an extraordinary talent.

I was willing to give it a go. What questions would I want answered? Probably the same as everyone else – family, health and future prospects. I shuffled the pack, selected some cards and sat back. I won’t bore you with the finer points, but there are four separate readings with a different number of cards,  and the final reading is just a single card. One card came up in all four of my readings – the card of devastating transformation. Oh.

All the structures in my life have crumbled and fallen, there has been absolute chaos, fear and uncertainty. Life as I knew it is gone forever and it is up to me to rebuild it in a new way. Wow. He asked me if this meant anything to me. Er, yes? He also went into some detail which was quite astounding and not even my friend could have forewarned him, as I had never discussed those things with her. Spooky. All the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up and my hands were shaking more than usual.

I didn’t ask about my MS in the end. I don’t want to know how it’s going to progress, or not. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. I’m still a skeptic, but I’m mulling over what he told me. On the way home, I bought a scratchcard for luck. Did I win? Nope, not a bean….


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